Monthly Archives: August 2009

Bringing on the wall, Day 26 – Wink Joins In

Dave was late!!(!)* This is pretty well unheard of, but I supposed that perhaps he had spent some extra minutes preparing his mother’s breakfast and that he’d been running around like a busy person to catch up ever since. When he arrived, only ten minutes later than usual, it transpired that there was another explanation, but you must go to him to find it.

I made tea (two Earl Greys without milk, one Earl Grey with milk, one Indian tea with milk) and we got started. The first bucketful of mortar was a bit wet, so I ladled it on to a run of bricks so that they would absorb some moisture by the time I wanted to lay the next course of bricks. This proved to be splendidly quick and effective and I got on well. Dave concentrated on the corner, which is a bit complicated to do. Wink had not, after all, brought bricklaying trousers, so I lent her a spare pair of mine (generously, the summer-weight ones, while I wore the thick jeans with the knee out), but she decided to do some shopping first, so disappeared for a while.

All went swimmingly, and later she returned and laid several bricks herself. This is today’s effort

And the corner from the other side.

Also, with Dave’s permission, here are the wide-lens photos he took last week. Still couldn’t get quite all of it in because of a tree in the way
If you compare my first photo with his second one from the session before, you can see how much we added today. These pictures, taken from his blog, don’t enlarge and they do look good embiggened (as Pat puts it) so here’s a link to the original where they do.

Later, we ate bacon sandwiches on the lawn, which have been requested by Dave for some time (he also asks for cake during afternoon sessions, but he hasn’t been lucky yet). The Sage was accompanied on one side by Tilly and on the other by his favourite bantam. He fed them both bits of toast. Then I fed them bits of toast. Dave left to go and tell his mother something she wouldn’t want to hear. We sat in the sun on the lawn and drank another glass or two of wine. Later, Wink had a little nap (she’s on holiday) and I went and filled the car against the fuel increase tonight and then came home and prepared dinner. We’d invited Al and family round for a barbecue.

While the food was cooking we ate smoked salmon pâté on oat cakes, artichoke hearts in olive oil, black olives and breadsticks. Squiffany hadn’t eaten artichoke hearts before and gave it a try “I don’t like it – wait – I do like it!” She accepted another, bigger piece. The meal went very well, everyone enjoyed all the food and it was a jolly, convivial evening in the last of the sunshine. We were joined by chickens again and gave them pieces of oatcake. Only one will take food from your hand, and she lets the Sage pick her up too. He gave her to me to cuddle and she let me, though she was being polite rather than enthusiastic so I didn’t test her patience for too long.

Then several of us went to Fairyland by train, and then the rest of us went to London – Squiffany being the train driver in each case. Eventually, as it was becoming dark, they went home to bed (well, the children went to bed, I daresay Dilly and Al didn’t) and we came in for coffee.

*If anyone wonders why the brackets, it’s because the divinely splendid JonnyB claims full rights to three unadorned exclamation marks and I am a respectful blogger.

Z is amused

So, it’s a sunny Bank Holiday and you’ve spent several hours frolicking in the sea or relaxing in the garden or steaming in a queue of cars or stomping round the shops. You want a spot of light relaxation, right?

Look no further. Z spends hours in relaxation, every single day. And this is the sort of thing I do when I’m not reading your blog. Each of your blogs, that is.

I like this photo. Interesting.

Thanks to Non-working Monkey for this one

Only one of many awkward family photos

An old one, but if you haven’t come across it before, one can while away a good many horrified, yet entertained, minutes Weeza put me on to this website years ago, long before I was a blogger.

Today’s real post to follow. I’ve got to start preparing dinner.

Oh Dave, would it be all right for me to publish your wide-lens photos of the wall please? Acknowledged, of course.

Z huffs and puffs

I’d been disinclined to go to church. There wouldn’t be a service at our church, only one at a village nearly 4 miles away – but they usually have a very small congregation, sometimes not even a single handful of people, and yet it’s a lovely place and I have friends there – so I decided I would. I’d drive though, it’s uphill and I’m nervous of one bend (on a hill with a nasty camber so that lorries tend to take up the whole road, invisibly until the last moment) even in a car, so cycling was out of the question.

Unfortunately, I have a strong feeling of obligation. I asked the Sage what he thought. “The wind has dropped” he replied unhelpfully. “I don’t mean the weather, I mean the road. It’s not a nice road and I don’t do hills” I said. “Oh” he said, “I don’t know how to advise you”. I knew what he meant. I sighed, went and ate a piece of toast and got the bike out.

No, I didn’t enjoy it at all. And what I didn’t realise, even on the way, was that quite a lot of it was very slightly downhill, so that on the way home I didn’t have the easy run I expected. However, there was a very good turn-out, with over 70 adults and a dozen or so children. I didn’t agree with what the Rector said in her sermon and drifted off for a while, thinking how I’d put it instead. Not that I’d want to. I never want to deliver another sermon, once was fine but I’ve done it – it was never an ambition, but at the time it was appropriate – but it won’t be again. Likewise for cycling that road. I hate hills and so does my bike.

I met Wink and the Sage at the pub, had a quick drink and came home and cooked omelettes. We had chicken for dinner, which was quite neat.

Weeza sent through the first draft of the catalogue. All is going well there.

Z is still scoffing fruit and cobnuts

Yes, I did go to the doctor and he immediately agreed to refer me to a consultant – he said a couple of years ago that he would, as soon as I asked, so it’s the result I expected, but only the first step. If I haven’t heard from the hospital in two weeks, I’m to contact him again, but I daresay I will have.

Bit of a change in the weather – a sudden downpour yesterday afternoon, the first rain here for at least a couple of weeks, and it’s markedly colder. Not cold – I’m still wearing a teeshirt – but when I go out tonight I’ll take some warm clothes for later.

This evening, Wink is due to arrive – I was quite gratified this morning when I went into the spare bedroom to find that I had remade the bed after the last guest left. Yes, I washed the sheets first. I always used to do that – when someone had been to stay, launder the bedlinen and remake the bed by close of play next day at the latest, but of late I have slipped somewhat, so I must have done it on autopilot.

Then we’re going out to the annual Cyder fest at the next village. The Sage is a member of the Cyder Club and they have a splendid hog roast each year. Great fun, but I’ve always prudently limited myself to a single glass of the home-made cider, as I think overindulgence would be a bad, bad mistake. Indeed, I’ve been known to add a dash of lemonade to help it down, and I’m not a shandy lover. The company and food are superb, however.

I went into town and stocked up on the sort of food one eats on a relaxed weekend – delicious nibbles from the deli and wholefood shops. Simon in the wholefood shop had a horrible journey back from Scotland yesterday. I knew the M5 had been closed for hours while the police tried to talk a man out of jumping from a bridge – unsuccessfully, ultimately – but apparently the M6 and a lot of other roads had a whole lot of delays because of accidents. Probably caused, some of them, by the bad driving of people who had been stuck in traffic for hours on the M5. I do, honestly and genuinely, have great sympathy for a man who was so unhappy he was driven to suicide, but surely there’s an etiquette here? If you have had police officers trying desperately to comfort you, to talk through your problems, begging you to accept help, for hours on end, you really should not jump after all at the end of it.

I grew up in a holiday resort, so it’s always been natural to me to batten down the hatches and just stay home on a Bank Holiday. Being a sulky and unfriendly sort of person, it seems more of a treat not to have to go anywhere.

Lunch today has been delicious bread from Simon’s shop, although I accidentally picked up a multi-grain loaf with sunflower seeds when I’d rather meant to get walnut bread; still, I’d have ate the whole loaf in one go if I had, so no matter. Since, I’ve been eating more Victoria plums and greengages (both locally grown) and nuts from Kent. Al said that sprouts and sprouting broccoli are on the wholesaler’s list. Hmmmm. Much as I like both vegetables, not in August. Wisely, Al is still sticking to real seasonal vegetables in the shop.

Z plans her day

The Sage will be out all afternoon. First he had to go to a funeral (having been asked to speak at it, an obligation was involved) and then, with Weeza and z, he will go this afternoon to visit his sister, whose birthday it is. I cycled into town, and very windy it is. On the way home, with the west wind in my face, I pedalled hard to little effect – at one point I was going at 5.5 mph. If I could run, I could run faster.

So now, the most pressing question is what to have for lunch. I’ve started with two figs – we’ve had a few from our own tree, but Al had some lovely local ones at the shop – someone with a large tree sells them to him every year. I forgot to have breakfast so I’m really quite hungry. Al had lots of lovely fruit – Worcester Pearmains (those are apples), Victoria plums, greengages, Kent cobnuts, as well as the figs, and I’m quite drawn to gorging on those, but on the other hand I could cook something with lots of garlic and chilli, more than the Sage quite enjoys. Or I could remove a bantam from a nest and take a couple of new-laid eggs (the Sage shut up the early layer last night so I wasn’t woken at 6 o’clock. Or there’s always risotto, which comforts and cheers even when I wasn’t in need of consolation to begin with. I will stand in the kitchen and see where I’m drawn.

After that, I’ll do the labelling of photos for the catalogue; or rather for the website catalogue. I’ll double check everything against the description; it’ll take a couple of hours I suppose. Then, having been to the library this morning, I might just settle down with a book and a dog and read and cuddle for the rest of the afternoon.

Z becomes over-confident

… and is inevitably caught out.

The last couple of days have gone really well. We were pleased with the work we did on the wall yesterday, and then in the afternoon all the china was put in order and the descriptions were written. Weeza started on the catalogue that evening and emailed the draft, and then arrived first thing this morning to start work again.

Actually, I didn’t have the best start to the day. A bantam has been laying eggs outside the side door, cackling her achievement around midday each morning, but yesterday and this morning, I’ve been woken by a triumphant boast from a different hen, which has gone on for quite 20 minutes, at 6 o’clock. By the time she stopped, there was no hope of sleep. I told the Sage about it and he looked on the other side of the house (our bedroom in this narrow cottage has a window to east and west) and found 14 eggs in a nest. Hmm.

Dilly looked after Zerlina while we got on with the business. We were, simultaneously, photographing each lot, proofreading and doing the condition report. The photos are taken out of doors, which is also a good place to see any damage or restoration. We worked on, restored by cups of Earl or Lady Grey and Lapsang Souchong, and did well until it was time for lunch. Zerlina went for a nap and we cracked on – but the sun came out. We built up a supply of checked china until a cloud came over, started photographing again, the sun came out … eventually it turned into a hot and sunny day and we enjoyed it for a bit before admitting retreat and going indoors for more tea and freezer defrosting.

Our fridge isn’t that old, but the seal on the freezer doesn’t fit too well any more, so it has to be defrosted regularly. Weeza decided we might as well do it now; basically because she thought that the odds were it wouldn’t be done for a couple of weeks otherwise. She’s right, of course. So that was done in between other jobs. We all agree that we really could do with a new fridge and would like it in a different place, but of course that means another turn-out…job for another day, let’s not think about that right now.

The sun still blazed, but lower in the sky, so we moved the set-up into the shade and finished the job by 4.30. I rapidly downloaded the photos, put them on a disc (I’ve no idea where I left my memory stick lying around, and that goes for my brain as well as my *whatever the correct name is for a memory stick, can’t remember – hah!* and Weeza and Zerlina left for home, with the happy knowledge that we’ve loads of time to finish the catalogue before it goes to the printers.

I started cooking dinner, did this’n’that, poured a glass of wine, did a bit more to dinner, poured more wine, noticed the time – squealed alarmingly – “what’s the matter?” asked the startled Sage. “I’m late, I’m meeting, er, you know – oh, no time to explain” and off I shot on my bike for the appointment I was 20 minutes late for. Bless her, the lovely person was still hanging about hopefully and was entirely gracious as I apologised.

When I got home, the house was empty. Johnny had phoned to say he wanted to cut the field for hay (an aftermath) so could we unlock the gate please? When the Sage returned, he left at once again to take Johnny a glass of cider, which went down well, apparently. No 169 is to leave soon to have her calf, but another cow will come to keep Big Pinkie company.

This evening, I should be numbering the photos for Ro to put on the website. But there’s no hurry. I think it’ll keep.

I have made that doctor’s appointment, for those of you who have encouraged me to Just Get On With It.

Bringing on the wall, Day 25 – we go Round the Bend

An event of some significance this afternoon – we reached the corner and Dave exuberantly went right round the bend. Actually, we had rather doubted that we’d get any building done at all today, when we’d looked at the BBC local weather forecast but, bearing in mind its usual level of accuracy, we decided to go for it. Indeed, the BBC still shows light rain right now, although there’s been none all day.

Dave worked particularly hard, first laying one of the ornamental bricks and filling in all around it for stability as the mortar sets, and then moving down to the corner to start on the pillar so that I’d have something to build to. Afterwards, he took photos with his super-duper wide-angled-lensed camera, though he couldn’t get far enough away with nothing in between to get the whole length of the wall either. He’ll put up his pictures at his place – I may pinch a couple of photos and put here, as they will undoubtedly be better than mine.

Here are today’s photos – I built from the hammer towards the corner, Dave did from the pillar on the left to beyond the ornamental brick, then the corner footings and the start of the pillar.

Dave being a man of charm and total good-nature, offered to come along on Bank Holiday Monday for a final go before he leaves for his holiday. I’m not sure how to tell Wink that some of her precious long weekend here will be spent bricklaying – wait, she reads this blog every day, so I already have. Wink, this will give you an opportunity to lay a few bricks yourself, and it’ll only be until noon and then we’ll stop for bacon sandwiches. Bring old clothes.

Of course, August Bank Holiday usually brings rain, so we’re prepared for disappointment, but that doesn’t stop us looking forward to Day 26.

Darling children

Weeza and Zerlina came over today. Little z has started walking on her own, as long as she doesn’t realise it, since the day after her first birthday. Just a couple of steps at a time – mostly she crawls, though as likely as not on her hands and feet rather than knees. Recent photo I hear some of you request – okay, here you are.

Squiffany is also pleased with herself because she can now swim, with armbands, without wanting her mother to hold her. Pugsley doesn’t try, but he will jump in, then plod round to the steps and come back to jump in again. The three children and their mothers are talking of going swimming tomorrow afternoon, while the Sage and I (and Dave) are bricklaying. I had an earnest talk with the Sage this morning – no, we don’t generally row. As Dave discovered, to his startlement one morning, my explosions are usually brief and while the Sage isn’t there, so I can be pleasant when he is. And I certainly appreciate how busy he has been; nevertheless I was able to cite similar projects where he has got to and beyond the point of no return and them left the job to finish at some time in the future. He took my point. Indeed, he’s very fair in these matters, once faced with irrefutable logic and no chance of turning the conversation to a sideline. I don’t underestimate that quality.

We’ll be seeing a lot of Weeza and z this week – they’re coming over in the morning and again on Thursday, and then the Sage is going over to her house on Friday and they’re going to call on the Sage’s sister as it’s her birthday. She lives up in Cromer. My children are very fond of her – her own children are a lot older than they are, being 47 and 45, and she enjoyed having small children to do things with; and then hand back, I daresay. She’ll be 77 on Friday. She really doesn’t seem to have changed much in decades, still as much fun as ever.

I didn’t say yesterday – I forgot to mention, that is – that it was Al and Dilly’s wedding anniversary, five day’s after Weeza and Phil’s (though a year apart). Darling children.

Back to ‘normal’

I’m home again – nothing much seems to have happened here, which is why half the plants in tubs and a lot of the jerusalem artichokes are wilted. Also, through no fault of Dave, no bricklaying has happened all week. Maybe later this week, the Sage is non-committal.

One evening, when we were having dinner with friends of Wink’s in a pub, another woman, Pip, came to join us for a drink and a chat and Wink mentioned my hip and the conversation turned to hip resurfacing. Another couple were leaving and came and joined in, to tell me that their daughter had her hip done a couple of years ago when she was 32 and it was a great success. Having such a problem at her young age was far worse for her than my old-woman osteoarthritis, and it’s transformed her life. Pip knows quite a lot about it too, and she gave very encouraging reports and likely prognosis – it seems that it could take over from hip replacements in relatively young people who have strong enough bones and last a very long time. I’ve said I’ll definitely go to the doctor and talk to him very soon. Maybe this week if I’m not too busy. Not tomorrow, certainly – Weeza is coming over to start preparations for the next sale catalogue and, as well, I’ve got the children in the morning. All three of them it’ll be, which will be amusing.

I had an email today which, after dealing with the matter we’d emailed each other about, welcomed me home. “It’s not the same without you”, it ended. I’m not at all sure how to take that. If it was a veiled dig, I’m actually rather impressed.

Z is back in the library

I don’t normally blog when I’m away because I find other computers too distracting to use, particularly as they’re usually slow and awkward – not necessarily awkward in themselves, but fingers are accustomed to a particular keyboard and another one may have slightly different spacing between the keys. This one does, in fact, and my fingers feel quite cramped in comparison to using my usual spacious keyboard. However, they are lovely new machines and so reasonably unfrustrating to use.

I had a lovely time with my friends and their daughter, who is home at present for her teaching job in Uganda. Later they were going to a funeral so, with a few hours to kill, I went to Glastonbury and had a peaceful wander round the Abbey ruins and then bought two of the few non-mystic or new-agey books in the bookshop opposite.

This morning we popped over to see Bod (Wink’s fella) and his mum and I met Bod’s brother and sister-in-law who were visiting on their way to stay with friends. Wink and the Bod are talking about visiting Portugal in November and wondered if I’d like to come too? – I was happy to look into the idea and later on browsed through the brochure. I said what the two likely options for leaving dates – “the second date would suit me” said Wink. She rang Bod. Unfortunately, the earlier week would suit him as he’s go a lunch booked. So, which will prevail, his lunch or her concert? I didn’t particularly agree when she grumbled about his intransigence as I’d cheerily said I’d cancel my trip to the opera in her week and didn’t even mention, untl then, the two other social engagements I’d got, nor the one in the previous week.

Anyway, tomorrow will see a visit to Salisbury, so the old limerick will go relentlessly through my mind the entire day, and on Sunday Wink has invited friends to lunch. Afterwards, Bod may come round for a stroll round Stourhead, although Wink, who has had a very busy week, may want to put her feet up.